A Belated Trip Report from May 2019 - Part 1 UOR

I was originally scheduled to fly to Orlando today for a family trip to UOR and WDW. We did a very similar trip last year. Since we can’t go this year, I’m posting a trip report of last year’s vacation.

Travel Day - Saturday, May 18, 2019, staying at Cabana Bay Beach Resort at UOR
My flight arrived at MCO on time around 9:45 pm. I’m on Pacific Time so still feels like early evening to me. My parents arrived several hours earlier traveling from NY state. I booked a shuttle from the airport to CBBR (slightly cheaper than rideshare for one person).

Walking through MCO to the shuttle stop

at the shuttle stop

We have always wanted to try CBBR at UOR. We intended to stay here in June 2017 in a family suite, but ended up at Portofino Bay due to some great discounts and the Express Pass option. This time I wanted to try CBBR because 1)my mother and I were planning on spending a lot of time at Volcano Bay which is very close to CBBR (hotel EPs are not accepted at VB), 2)we were travelling the week before Memorial Day during a 3-5 CL 3)I know my family’s touring style. We do an attraction once per day at most even with EPs. 4)My sister and I had been to UOR again in Sept 2018 and stayed at PB again. It was time to try a new resort!

We picked a Volcano view standard room at CBBR for this trip because we had seen previous reports of the VB views on TP and they were excellent. The Volcano view rooms are in tower buildings with interior corridors and floor to ceiling windows. They are at the end closest to VB and a bit of a walk from the lobby. The additional cost over a standard room was around $20. With discounts, tax and adult occupancy fees, our room came out to be about $165/night (the best discount was a pin code my mother was sent; it beat the AP deals). With our same party, a Disney moderate resorts would be about $300/night. The room was absolutely on par with Disney moderate rooms in our experience. 2 queens with comfy mattresses and pillows, a table with 2 chairs, a sub-divided bathroom with a single sink and storage vanity area, toilet and a good sized shower in a separate area. Yes, many moderates have 2 sinks in the vanity area, but DVC studios only have 1 (we’ll be staying in DVC studios later in the trip).

Volcano view!!!

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Oh! Thank you! I have never stayed at CBBR and I love the pictures! A few of Volcano Bay!!!

I stayed in CBBR two times, 12/2018 and 2/2019 and loved it there.

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Park Day 1, Part 1 Volcano Bay - Sunday, May 19, 2019

I have difficulty sleeping Sat night partly because I am on Pacific Time, but mostly because I am excited and nervous for tomorrow. The plan is for my mom and I to RD VB for early entry which is at 9 am. CBBR is a 5 minute walk from VB. Sounds easy right? Not for us. We have a morning ritual of coffee brewing, where is my whatsit, more coffee brewing, I can’t find this completely nonessential item, ok, I found it, we’re ready, oh, no! I don’t have my ticket. I have never made it into a theme park before 9:30 am.when I have been with my family. The only park we have ever roped dropped successfully was Typhoon Lagoon and that was for a 10 am opening (though that required driving from AoA). Plus, I need to upgrade my 2 park AP to a 3 park AP. CBBR has a ticket desk in the lobby (near the gift shop), but it was already closed when I arrived the night before.

I get maybe 2 solid hours of sleep in and am out of bed around 7 am. We left the curtains open and there is a beautiful view of the volcano (taken at 7:09 am per my timestamp).

We are on a lower floor (I think it was the 2nd) and can see some of the access road (shown in photo below). There was very little activity on the access road during the morning and evening when we were in the room. I’m pretty sure I saw a VB rental cabana being driven on a truck in the middle of the night. The room was completely quiet at night; I only noticed it because I was awake.

Just after 8 am, the background music at Volcano Bay is turned on and you can hear it a little bit from the room. I actually really love that. The music is very mellow and laid back. I also love being able to see into the park. We once stayed at the Grand Californian and had a room overlooking the monorail and Grizzly Peak. My favorite thing about that was watching and hearing the park come to life in the morning.

It’s 8:20 am; we’re still in the room. Enough admiring the view, time to get moving! I still need to get to the ticket desk and pick up something to eat and coffee (I can’t drink coffee on an empty stomach). We head to the lobby which is a few minutes walk away from VB (towers are next door to VB but lobby is in center of resort). My dad is skipping VB this trip; he’s not a big fan of water parks. He says have fun and goes to grab a breakfast sandwich on his way to USF. My mom and I get in line at the ticket desk. Only a couple of people ahead of us, but in my experience, ticket lines can take forever. Not the case year. In 2 minutes I’m being helped. Team Member is friendly and efficient and I have my new pass is record time. Unfortunately, no time to grab food, we need to walk back across the hotel and get through VB security in the next 15 minutes.

We made it to the back of the RD pack before the opening gong sounded! I’ll take it. Crowd isn’t too large; we are all held under the room by the ticket booths. Sorry, I don’t have photos. We weren’t in the pack long enough to relax. I had already put my phone away and was preparing to speed walk. They check room keys and direct those with early entry privileges in one direction and day guests in the other.

First up is renting a locker. Our first time at VB, in June 2017, we were a group of 5 and planning on spending all day at the water park so we rented a cabana. This time it’s just 2 of us and our focus is do as much as possible then meet my dad for lunch at IOA and do water rides there. My sister arrives tomorrow midday and she dislikes water rides. Today is the day for doing those! We fuss around with the locker rental and ended up with a larger (and more expensive) locker than we needed. Now out to the slides. Unfortunately, I have no photos as my phone spent the morning in the locker.

We head to the aqua coaster first via Rainforest Village towards the back of the park, but the pathway is closed off there because it early entry. So then we head around closer to the volcano and pass the entrance for Oh no and Oh Yah drop slides. There is no wait so we go right up the steps forgetting to take off our water shoes. We’re sent back down to put our shoes on the rack. Then back up (still no wait, barely anyone in the area). Finally, we are on the slides! Whee!

Now it’s off to the aqua coaster! This time we remember to take off the water shoes (water shoes need to be removed on all the slides; you can wear them in the lazy rivers and lagoon pool). There’s a standby line, no TapuTapu virtual wait needed. Line moves quickly and we are soon speeding down and up hills. Line has built up after we finish so we get in the virtual queue which is posted 20 minutes and head over to the Taniwa Tubes. We walk right on and then head over to the big green and blue raft rides (Ika Moana and Honu) which are both Ride Now. My mother has issues with heights. She did the big blue( Honu) raft ride last time with us, but it definitely pushed her comfort levels. We elect to ride the tamer Ika Moana which is a walk on. This is the only slide we missed on our last trip. It’s quite fun and a longer ride than Honu (it’s more like Miss Adventure Falls at Typhoon Lagoon but you do need to climb stairs). Our TapuTapus let us know we can ride the aqua coaster now, but we elect to do another ride on Ika Moana first.

By the time we complete our 2nd aqua coaster ride, I am very hungry. My mom isn’t a big breakfast person like I am, but she could use a snack too so we head to one of the restaurants. They aren’t open yet so off to do more rides. I thought VB was going to be crowded since it’s a Sunday and hot and sunny, but nope, it’s totally pleasant. The headliners have virtual queue times with reasonable lengths (30 minutes and under) and many slides are Ride Now. The lazy river isn’t crowded nor is the lagoon. Neither of us wants to do any of the trap door slides. I did both last time and got a welt on my back from the serpentine one so feel no need to repeat today. We head over to Maku Puili. The longest part of the wait is climbing the stairs.

At this point we have done every single slide that we wanted to so at least once. We go grab some food. The place is empty of guests (it’s still early). There were some technical difficulties with using my TapuTapu to pay. Also, you’ll need your physical AP for the discount (mine was in the locker). Eventually, we sorted it out. Food was good. My mom had the Tropical Fruit Salad and I had an Island Chicken Salad which had pieces of fruit in it (including shaved coconut) both from the Grab and Go section. All the fruit was fresh. We specifically wanted light options because we had lunch reservations at Confisco Grill later. We finished off our morning at VB with a few laps in the lazy river. It was glorious. Weather was sunny and hot, but not too hot, the water was sparkling blue and we saw maybe 5 other people during our loops.

Next up will be our afternoon and evening at IOA…

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Park Day 1, Part 2 Islands of Adventure - Sunday, May 19, 2019

Exited Volcano Bay sometime between 12 and 12:30 pm to go to Islands of Adventure for a 1:15 pm lunch reservation at Confisco Grille in Port of Entry. We do a lot of table service dining during our family trips. My parents never eat out at restaurants during regular life; it’s something they really look forward to doing on vacation. Plus, my mother is vegetarian and frequently eats vegan and the rest of us prefer to mix in healthy options along with typical theme park eats.

Easy to get from VB to main CityWalk hub via bus (buses were running frequently, no wait that I remember). Through security quickly and walking to CW. We arrived at Confisco on time. I love the Port of Entry area which was part of the reason I picked this place. It also had a vegetarian/vegan friendly menu and we had not dined here before (we did Mythos last time). Restaurant was busy at the time as it was during peak hours, but we only waited a few minutes to be seated. Service was great and food was good. I’d describe Confisco Grille as IOA’s version of Disneyland Park’s Carnation Cafe. It’s setting is quintessential IOA, very good burgers and sandwiches, food arrives quickly, but the experience doesn’t feel rushed. My dad told us about his morning exploring WWoHP. He broke down and purchased an interactive wand and spent a chunk of time working on spells. He also rode the Hulk coaster because it was only a 15 minute wait!

After lunch, we hung out in Port of Entry for a bit. We went to the ice cream shop next door and bought an ice cream and a coffee (I drink coffee or tea daily but had still not had any today). It was lovely, no lines, no crowds around. We sat outside enjoying our treats before heading off to Super Hero Island and tour the park in a clockwise manner. I always create Touring Plans which get thrown out the window at UOR.

First stop, the Amazing Adventures of Spiderman. My sister dislikes this ride so it’s a must-do before she arrives. I love me a good queue and have never been through the standby queue for this ride which is supposed to be good. It does not disappoint. Posted wait 20 minutes; line is moving the whole time. My mom and I actually pause in line (we let others go by) to read all of the awards posted. Here’s our favorite:

My mom has some issues with motion sickness so she opts not to ride. There are several rides at UOR that she doesn’t do (including Forbidden Journey and the big coasters). I like that UOR makes it very easy to go through the queue together and then not ride at rides like Spiderman and FJ. My dad already rode Hulk so we skip that for now (I can ride with my sister tomorrow).

I drag my parents over to the lookout area near Captain American Diner to see the meteor impact sculpture and hear the SHIELD communications. No one around and an excellent view!


Now to Toon Lagoon at about 3:45 pm. Dudley Do-Right is down so we head to Bilge Rat Barges. My dad opts to skip; he’s not a big fan of water rides. Mom and I ride. It’s a 15 minute wait, not bad, but the line doesn’t move much and you spend a lot of time standing in an inside barn-type structure. The ride is great; we don’t get too soaked of course as we are wearing swimsuits under our quick-dry clothes. :joy:

Next up is King Kong. I’ve been on this attraction several times previously, but only using the EP lane that bypasses the queue. I do enjoy the attraction, but I have heard that the queue is the best part. This is the longest queue we encounter all day; posted at 45 minutes. Yes, it’s good. Our photos didn’t come out well do to the reduced lighting. No real scareactors today, but you can see the spots they probably used previously. I use this as a demonstration of sorts to show my parents how HHN works.

We would be in Jurassic Park next. I don’t have any photographs there and I can’t recollect if we rode Jurassic Park River Adventure that day. JPRA is our top family attraction at UOR; it’s slightly beats Escape from Gringotts. All of us can ride it and all of us love it. My 90 year old grandmother even enjoyed it! Maybe we skipped it today because my sister wasn’t there?

In Hogsmeade after 5 pm. FJ wait posted 15 minutes. We need to slow down and let others pass in the queue so that we can enjoy the pre-shows. My mom holds the bags while dad and I ride. I can handle FJ only about once per day and I am pretty sturdy (I can ride Star Tours more easily than anyone else in my family and handle Teacups; everyone else can only do one of those rides).

Now it’s time for a Butterbeer! One of my favorite spots at UOR is the outside terrace behind the Three Broomsticks. We pickup regular Butterbeer, a frozen Butterbeer and a Deathly Hollows, I mean 3-layer beer from the Hogsmeade Pub (non-alcoholic beverages qualify for AP discounts).
Butterbeer


3-layer beer - Strongbow, Hog’s Head Ale, Guinness

A great place to observe the new Jurassic Park coaster building

We spent about an hour in Hogsmeade hanging out, poking in shops, etc.

On our wait out of the park, we stopped to ride the Seuss Trolley Train Ride. We completed the day with dinner at Island Dining Room at Royal Pacific. We are big fans of the Wok Experience here. It was not happening this evening, but the regular dining was excellent.

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I didn’t even that was there! I am going to have to find it!

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Okay, I literally laughed out loud at this! For me, I have to add “DH gets to the boat launch and then realizes he has his pocket knife which he takes everywhere and he won’t make it through security, so he has to go back to the room.”. :rofl:

^^This phrase does not exist in my language! How you lasted all that time without food is a mystery to me!

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This is me! I obsessively and meticulously make plans, moving things around and optimizing like a crazy woman, only to end up using them as nothing more than a glorified checklist by the time I get to parks to make sure I haven’t missed anything.

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I am enjoying your trip report! We’ve been to CBBR many times, and love it. We’re missing UOR so much. I love doing UOR only trips, lots of fun, and so relaxing! I still plan out what I want to do, but I general, I don’t need to stress out planning. Please continue your report, we don’t really have many UOR reports, lol. Maybe I should write one for my first trip down…

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We once made it all the way from the hotel to the turnstiles at DL park with no tickets. I had an AP so I went through and turned around to see my parents and sister talking with a CM. Another time at DL, we returned for our evening Space Mountain FPs and my dad had left them back at the hotel. This is was back in the paper FP days. He and my sister hoofed it back to the hotel to get them.

Adrenaline is my explanation. This is the only time in memory that I have sacrificed food to get to theme park faster.

We always have lots of fun at UOR; so much more relaxed than WDW. I mostly plan out our dining and let things roll from there. I have so few good photos from UOR because I was so busy having a good time. We were always moving from one thing to the next. I have lots of nice photos from the Disney section of the trip, but that’s largely because there was so much standing around waiting. With the exception of Animal Kingdom park and Lodge where stopping and enjoying what is going on in front of you is the point.

Park Day 2, Part 1 Volcano Bay - Monday, May 20, 2019

The plan was for my mother and I to visit VB in the morning/early afternoon again. My dad was off to the theme parks with my sister meeting him there in the late afternoon after her flight arrived. I made us a 5:45 pm reservation at Cowfish. My sister and I ate here the past September and it was excellent. My sister is a pescatarian (she eats fish, but no other meat); my mom is a vegetarian. Both enjoy eating vegan. My sister was excited by the number of vegetarian and vegan options on the Cowfish menu. Cowfish takes reservation only for lunch through early dinner hours. We made one for an early dinner several hours after my sister’s flight was due to land.

This time my mom and I got breakfast at the CBBR food court. Given the low crowd levels and how much we did yesterday, I wasn’t concerned about rope dropping today. This was our first time eating at the CBBR food court. I got a breakfast wrap and a coffee; my got a yogurt parfait. No lines anywhere, we paid for our food super fast. We chose to eat outside on the outskirts of the lazy river pool courtyard (there was plenty of seating inside, but the AC was kind of cool). The food was fine. Compared to the Art of Animation Landscape of Flavors food court, the food was not as good, but the wait time to pay pay and the crowd levels in the area were superior. Side note: Landscape of Flavors is a mess at breakfast when it comes to checkout and the entire place is loud and noisy. Ugh. Good food though.

VB was pretty much the same today. Chill, fun. We headed to the lockers first again and there was a very helpful Team Member there. He was sorting out all the locker issues and we got a small locker this time. We hit the wave pool first just because we wanted! We’ve never been in it before; too busy running around to the slides. Super relaxing. We swam all the way out to the deep end and just bobbed in the waves chatting. Then off to the aqua coaster. The rest of the morning and early afternoon was spent like the day before; jumping on slides without much wait. We did loops in the raging river one of our favorite VB attractions. Back in June 2017, they required everyone to use a tube in the raging river; life jackets optional. In May 2019, there were no tubes and life jackets were required. I really like this change. The life jackets are excellent for body surfing and give so much more freedom of movement than the tubes. You can bob along in your life jacket or you can swim into the bigger waves. So fun.

We headed back to the locker sometime in the afternoon when we got hungry. Turned out that my sister was bale to catch an earlier flight and had landed already in MCO. We head back to the hotel to get lunch and maybe try the lazy river at CBBR. I have a little bit of an obsession of getting a lazy river cup and floating around drinking. We ordered lunch at the Hideaway Grill in the lazy river courtyard. My mother had a veggie burger and I had the fish tacos. My mom said the veggie burger was perfectly acceptable. My fish tacos looked a bit sad at first; lots of brown on that plate (the fish was breaded); however, the exceeded expectations. The tortillas were fresh and the coleslaw was well-seasoned. We could have ordered drinks from the Hideaway bar (they have both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks with the CBBR cups), but we elected to walk over to the Atomic Tonic by the other pool courtyard. I wanted to try the Atomic Tonic. Wow, there were low crowds at this pool too. I thought the pool would be full of people (It was around 3 pm), but no, it was very mellow. We got a coconut smoothie for my mom and an Atomic Tonic for me. We headed back to the lazy rive courtyard, but I chickened out on the lazy river with the drink thing. I didn’t see anyone else with a cup in hand and the sign said “No food or drink.” We finished our drink on a bench and then headed back to the room to get ready for dinner and the theme parks.

Cowfish early dinner with mom, dad and my sister.
I had a bento box


Drinks

Now off to Hogsmeade for a sunset ride on Flight of the Hippogriff. For my mom, FotH is a big coaster. Which seems kind of funny because she’ll ride Big Thunder Mountain and the Matterhorn at DL 10x in a row if she can. She also enjoys Space Mountain and Rocking Roller Coaster. The difference is that you can’t see how high you are on those coasters. An exposed track is what bother her (her issue is heights). We also ride Forbidden Journey; I sit this one out with my mom because I’m a bit winded from hiking around VB for 2 days in a row. We take the Hogwarts Express to Diagon Alley to enjoy the evening there.

We ride Escape from Gringotts and enjoy DA in the evening. We leave DA around the 9 pm park closing.Then the Cinematic Spectacular is happening outside and we have a beautiful view of the fireworks from the London Waterfront. Pretty sure the blurriness in the photos is from my phone still being in my waterproof plastic carrier. It’s Universal, you never know when you’ll be spritzed with water!

London Waterfront

Creature checking to see if we finally left.

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Thank you for the report, much appreciated! We are visiting UOR in March and are looking into adding Volcano Bay, thanks for the details!

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I highly recommend checking out the Orlando Informer website for more UOR details. I used this website a lot when planning my first UOR trip in June 2017.
https://orlandoinformer.com/

OI is mainly focused on Universal Orlando and has lots of great details that I haven’t seen anywhere else. For example, they cover ride lockers in full with photos and tips just for using the lockers.

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Park Day 3, USF and IOA - Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Last day at UOR before heading to WDW in the evening. We checkout of CBBR in the morning storing our bags here before taking the theme park bus to CW. Note that the theme park bus from CBBR goes to the transportation hub at the main parking garage outside of CW and you will go through the main security checkpoint with day guests. This drops you close to the main security check point (closer than parking in the garage), but you still need to walk through all of CW to the theme parks. the main security checkpoint moves quickly; UOR uses bag scanners (not individual manual checks) and there is always a no bags line. We’ve never waited more than a few minutes even with bags.

First stop: Voodoo Donuts for breakfast around 9:30 am. My sister and father are big donuts fans; my mom not as much, but hey, it’s vacation. Also, Voodoo has vegan donuts and she’s always up for trying a vegan item. There is a line, but it moves efficiently. We eat inside before heading off to USF. We bought a few different donuts; all were tasty (not surprisingly).

To USF! First up, Rip Ride Rockit. Only my sister and my dad ride this. My mom doesn’t do the tall coasters and I elect to sit this one out too. I’ve done RRR before; however, I find that it can be rather rough on my head and neck. After 2 days of running around VB, I’m feeling some tiredness and I know I have 8 consecutive days at WDW parks to get through. Ironically, my mom would probably love RRR’s rickety-ness, but that first hill is a no go (also, the track is exposed). She loves the Matterhorn Bobsleds at DL which are notorious for being uncomfortably rough.

From here, it’s a leisurely stroll over to the NY area and a ride on the Mummy. An excellent ride IMO. Everyone can ride this one. Dad and I head over to Men in Black next. My mom doesn’t do this because it spins uncontrollably (she cannot do spinning rides at all; she can’t even look at teacups). My sister elects to skip this too this time around. I have never done the full standby queue on MiB until now. The pre-show definitely enhances the ride, IMO. We manage acceptable scores, but nothing special.

Now, it’s time for lunch at Lombard’s Seafood Grille. I made reservations here in advance. Not much information about Lombard’s is out there, but the menu looked pretty good and the interior photos* looked like it had a Haunted Mansion meets family restaurant vibe which is basically perfect for my family. See the Orlando Informer photo gallery of Lombard’s https://orlandoinformer.com/universal/lombards-seafood-grille/

Our duck hosts at Lombard’s

Seated right after check-in near the aquarium in the main room on ground level.

We ordered the mussels appetizer for my dad, my sister and me. My standards when it comes to mussels dishes like this are ridiculously high. There is a restaurant that I regularly frequent when on work trips and it has an exceptional mussels dish with chorizo and cherry tomatoes. It’s the most amazing mussels dish I have had in my life. This didn’t live up to that, but it was good. Most importantly, my dad and sister (who have never had the dish I speak of, but have standards) thought it was very good.

All our entrees were good. I don’t remember what everyone had, but we were all happy with our meals. I had a grilled chicken salad. It was lovely; fresh ingredients all around, exactly what I was looking for in a lunch dish. Service was very good. I highly recommend Lombard’s for anyone looking for a pleasant table service dining option at UOR along with anyone with specific dietary needs or just looking for a healthier meal in USF.

Now off to King’s Cross to get the Hogwart’s Express to Hogsmeade.


We ride Forbidden Journey (mom sits it out with our bags as she may not be, um, “not compatible” with this attraction; thanks, Mom!) From Hogmeade, my dad heads back to CBBR to meet up with Hertz rental car to pick up our rental car for our WDW trip section. Since we do lots of resort dining at WDW, we need a rental car (we’ll have 5 adults at WDW; my dad gets really good deals on Hertz rentals so cheaper than 2 ride shares). My sister and I spend some time working on our spell work in Hogsmeade. Then we slowly move our way back to the exit via Jurassic Park…

Strolling through Jurassic Park, we encounter a family of ducks! This is straight out of Disneyland; ducks just roaming as if they own the place (to be fair, they basically do).
:smile:


Well then, Jurassic Park River Adventure has a 10 minute posted wait. So we have to ride it. That 10 minute wait was actually a 1 minute wait. After exiting the ride, we get a message from my dad that he has the rental car. Yay! We head back to CBBR electing to walk the garden path from Royal Pacific to avoid the CW hubbub. It’s a nice walk but beat in mind that it’s 90 degrees outside. I insist at stopping at the Atomic Tonic Grill on the way to the CBBR lobby to get a snack to hold us over until our 8:15 pm ADR at Jiko’s. The Atomic Tonic Grill is in the courtyard that you first encounter walking from the parks to CBBR (the pool with the slide). I ordered the Mediterranean Platter at AT (Hummus, olives, tomato, cucumber, pepperoncino, feta, and warm pita) and it was great at holding us over until our dinner. They packed it up to go and we ate it on our car trip to WDW. My sister and I picked up the purchase and we got drinks to go for us as well as smoothies for our parents (all using our reusable CBBR cups of course) :+1: Dad was slightly annoyed that we had purchased real food; but he ended up agreeing that this was the perfect snack to hold us over to dinner.

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Thank you for the report, it’s nice to at least read about vacation.

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